Mountain Biking at Grafton Lakes State Park

Grafton Lakes State Park in Grafton, 30 minutes outside of Troy, is my new favorite place for outdoor fun.

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There are a few small lakes, each with trails that run around them for hiking and mountain biking.

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Some of the trails start out easy and get really hard–lots of large rocks! It was almost impossible for me to ride through some sections, but it was a good workout and most of the trails have great views of the lake. It’s so serene!

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On Monday Jordan and I met my parents there. The just got a new canoe, so we took it out for a short test paddle. So fun!

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Nutrition Spotlight: MCT Oil

The nutrition field is super exciting. I feel like every day there is a new health food trend on social media. I find it all fascinating and the first thing I do is go to the research to see if these health claims are true! (PS: I found a great resource called Cleveland Clinic’s Supplement Review that gives you evidence-based information on popular supplements!) Anyway, recently I’ve been seeing MCT (or Medium Chain Triglyceride) oil making an appearance on social media. I thought it was interesting because we learn about MCTs in metabolism. Now it is on my facebook feed! MCT oil is being sold in health food stores claiming miraculous health benefits and it’s pretty expensive.

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What is a Medium-Chain Triglyceride (MCT)?

First of all, a triglyceride is what makes up fat. It is molecule made up of a glycerol backbone with three fatty acid chains attached.

structure of a triglyceride

Medium-chain triglycerides are those with medium-sized fatty acid chains attached to the glycerol backbone.

Fatty+Acid+Structures

The difference between MCTs and short and long chain triglycerides is the process that they undergo when they are broken down by the body. MCTs are absorbed directly into the liver from your intestines to be used as energy, while the others have to pass into the lymphatic system first. MCTs don’t require bile to be digested, while the others require bile for breakdown. Palm kernel oil and coconut oil are both rich sources of MCTs. Dairy fats (like from butter, cheese and milk) also contain MCTs. This feature is why products claim they are a good source of energy.

Are there any health benefits?

MCT oil is usually used for those on a ketogenic diet. This diet is used to treat neurological diseases like epilepsy. MCTs are also used as a supplement for those with malabsorption problems like inflammatory bowel disease. But chances are you are seeing MCTs because they claim to help you lose weight! Some studies show that use of MCT oil can promote weight loss because keeps you full longer. But most other studies have been inconclusive. Calories are another thing to consider.  One tablespoon of MCT oil contains 115 calories, which is something to keep in mind if you are watching your intake. Cleveland Clinic Supplement Review states that MCT oil is a “safe and effective short-term product for weight loss, metabolic syndrome, obesity and improving inflammatory markers. This is a high-calorie food, however, and it is quite filling, so it may act as a replacement for other calories in the diet.”

I am a proponent for getting your nutrients from actual food versus supplements, so I’d recommend to get your MCTs from foods, such as dairy, cheese or milk, rather than oil. I know I’d rather eat real food than to just eat a tablespoon of oil. Also, keep in mind that MCTs are a saturated fat, and eating too much saturated fat can lead to heart disease. So unless you are eating a very healthy diet most of the time, I wouldn’t go crazy with MCT oil. My Plate recommends that 20 to 35 percent of your daily total calories come fat, which should include unsaturated fats, those healthy fatty acids like omega-3s and omega-6s we get from nuts, seeds, olives, avocados and fatty fish like salmon. These are important for improving HDL (good cholesterol)  and lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) and pertinent to heart health!

I enjoyed researching MCT oil and I hope that you are now better informed. If there is anything other hot nutrition trend you’d like to me write about, leave a comment or email me!

Shipyard Maine Coast Marathon and 39.3 Challenge

So where did I leave off? Oh right, I was about to run a marathon! My friend Kristin was running the full also and she had her eyes on a PR! (Spoiler alert: she crushed it!) My goal: to not get swept off the course and finish under the cut off time.

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The race started at 7:30 at the Kennebunk High School, only a three minute drive from our motel. Jordan dropped me off and I met up with Kristin to wish her luck. The day was a lot cooler and more cloudy than Saturday. Thank goodness, because it was perfect marathon running weather. I was on the fence about what to wear for this race but went with a light long sleeve. It was the perfect choice.

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Surprisingly, my legs felt great. I was worried I was going to be sore from the half, but after the first few miles my legs warmed up and I kept a decent pace of about an 11:00 minute mile.

The views weren’t bad on the course, huh?

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Jordan drove along the course to stop and cheer. It was great to see him every few miles! He got this awesome shot me munching on jelly beans. Every other water stop had a food item for the runners instead of a gel. I must say, this was an awesome approach. I had a new snack to look forward to. I think my favorite were the mini chocolate chip cookies at mile 17.5 and the m&ms at mile 25. I know they say “never do anything new on race day” – but I decided to wing it and eat the snacks. It was a good decision.

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At around mile 10 I started talking to a girl named Kathryn who had been running the same pace as me from the beginning. She was running the challenge too and is also an avid hiker! She’s from Maine and has hiked all of the 48 highest peaks in New Hampshire! It turned out we had a ton in common. It was great to chat  and it helped the miles go by faster. We were determined we would drag each other across the finish line if we had to. Before we knew it, Mile 20 was upon us. And I actually hadn’t taken that many walking breaks. I only walked through water stops and up some minor hills.

By mile 23 my legs started to really feel it. My feet were hurting a little bit, but I was determined to keep running. I had been running between the 4:45  and the 5:00 pacers for most of the race, but I didn’t see the 5:00 pacer until the last .2 of the marathon. We were on target to finish in about 5 hours. I was shocked! Finally, the finish line was in sight!

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Volunteers promptly handed us our medals–TWO! We got the marathon medal and the special 39.3 medal for finishing the challenge! They also gave us our jackets. We wore them with pride!

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Jordan met me at the finish line and I hobbled my way over to get in line for pizza.

I was pretty much in shock that I had actually ran a 5:03 marathon the day after running a half! I wasn’t even sure I could start the race, let alone run the entire thing in five hours. I guess it goes to show I am stronger than I give myself credit for.

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I got my post-race beverage, the Shipyard Summer Ale. Beer never tasted so good!

I would highly recommend both of the Shipyard Maine Coast races. They both had amazing views along the coast, great support and even some spectators! Both races were incredible. Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 7.29.35 AM

We went back to the hotel so I could shower and change and then we went on a mission to find a Maine lobster roll.

Mission accomplished!

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This lobster roll came from the Clam Shack in Kennebunkport. It was AMAZING! And to make it even better, there were no lines since it was off-season.

So now I’ve completed the 39.3 challenge, what’s next? I guess I have to think about it…

Shipyard Maine Coast Half Marathon

Back in the fall I signed up for my 5th marathon, the Maine Coast Marathon, as well as the half marathon, in the same weekend. After months of slacking on training (I only did two back to back long runs, I was supposed to do them every other week), I wasn’t sure I was up for the 39.3 challenge. My goal for the weekend was to run the half marathon on Saturday conservatively to save energy for the next day, have fun, and to feel good. I wanted to finish the half and then evaluate for Sunday. I didn’t tell many people I was running both races because my head was full of doubts that I could run both back to back.

Friday rolled around and it was time for Jordan and I to drive to Kennebunk, Maine. I had never been to Maine was was super excited to check out the Maine Coast. (Turns out, I love Maine.)

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We stayed right in Kennebunk, a short drive to the coast and to the marathon start/finish area. The half began in Biddeford at the University of New England campus, about a 20 minute drive from our motel.  A few of my good friends were running the half marathon, so it was loads of fun to hang out in Maine with them.

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The day turned out to be much warmer than expected. Thankfully I opted for the ARE tank top! The sun was beating down during the entire race.

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I took it slow and enjoyed the scenic views, making sure to walk the hills (there weren’t that many), and to drink at each water station to stay properly hydrated. My goal was to finish feeling strong because I’d have to run double the distance the following day. One thing was for sure, the views during the half marathon were incredible!

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Despite the warm temperature, I felt great the whole race. My legs felt fresh. I was feeling good! I finished the half in 2:25:04, just over an 11 minute mile. Okay. I felt good and decided to at least start the marathon the next day.

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Jordan got to take his road bike out and ride some of the course–he found me near the end to cheer me on! The medal we got was awesome-a mermaid with a bottle opener.

Even though it was a hot race and not everyone hit their goals, we still had fun out there.

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The race provided runners with 1 slice of pizza and two Shipyard beers! It was kind of early when we finished, so we didn’t have our beers, but we had plans to visit some Maine breweries later on.

After we showered, we drove to Portland. We first stopped at Bissell Brothers, followed by Allagash Brewing.

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Free beer tasting, anyone? They were so good!

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Portland was such a cool town. We loved it! I can’t wait to go back and explore more.

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So, Day 1 of Maine Coast Marathon weekend was complete. Next up: the full marathon! Stay tuned…

Hunter Mountain Fire Tower

School is over for the semester and I found myself with Monday off. It was going to be a pretty nice day so I asked Jona if she wanted to get in a short hike since she had the day off also. We decided to hike Hunter Mountain, a peak in the Catskills that is part of the 35 over 3,500′ (5/35) and is also on the Fire Tower Challenge (10/28) list. It is the second highest Catskill Peak at 4,040 feet.

There are many trails to get to the summit of Hunter. We opted for the easier fire-road. The trail head is at a parking lot near the end of a long dead-end called Spruceton Road. We started the hike at around 8am. The first few miles went along Hunter Brook.

At 1.3 miles we came to a junction. Taking a right lead us up to the fire tower.

The trail was a very wide gravel path. It was still steep though!

We stopped at the John Robb lean-to check it out. This little guy was hanging out nearby.

The view a few steps from the lean-to.

Wouldn’t mind staying overnight up here!

Near the summit the trail flattens out a little bit and it’s just gorgeous. We loved walking through the trees. It felt like an enchanted forest!

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After about an hour and a half since we left the car, we got to the tower. Unfortunately there isn’t a view unless you climb up.

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We ate our early lunch and then headed back down. We stopped at the spring, which was just a little ways off the trail.

We got back down around 11:30. It had been a while since either of us had hiked in the Catskills. They are closer than the Adirondacks and seem to be easier hikes, at least the hikes I’ve done have been. The Catskills are a good option when DEC warns to stay off the trails of the Adirondack high peaks during mud season.

Hunter Mountain Fire Tower
Distance 7.0 mi RT
Elevation 4,040′
Ascent 1936′
Time 3 hours, 30 minutes

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